A stranger arrives in Bramblehurst railway station. He is bundled from head to foot with only the tip of his nose showing. He enters the Coach & Horses Inn and demands a room and a fire. Mrs. Hall, the owner prepares a supper for him and offers to take his coat and hat, but he refuses to take them off. When he finally removes the hat, his entire head is swathed in a bandage. Mrs. Hall thinks he has endured some accident. She tries to get him to talk about himself, but he is taciturn with her, although not particularly rude.
Notes - This introduction to the Invisible Man through the eyes of the town people is actually about midway through his own story. He has already gone from place to place trying to keep his cover and has committed two acts of violence, one against his own father and the other against the proprietor of a costume shop whom he tied and gagged in order to be able to steal clothing and money. Nevertheless, his intention at this point is simply to find a quiet place and work as quickly as possible to find an antidote to the invisibility. The primary thread of the story-that of the growing rumors and suspicions, which eventually contribute to his exposure-is begun.
Teddy Henfrey, a clock repairman, comes to the inn for tea. Mrs. Hall asks him to “repair the clock” in the stranger’s room. Teddy deliberately takes as long as he can with the clock, taking it apart and reassembling it for no reason. The stranger finally gets him to hurry up and leave. Offended, Teddy talks himself into believing that the stranger is someone of a suspicious nature, perhaps even wanted by the police and is wrapped up to conceal his identity. Teddy runs into Mr. Hall and warns him about the stranger, informing him that a “lot of luggage” will be coming. It would seem that the stranger intends to stay awhile.
Mr. Hall goes home intending to investigate the stranger, but is put off by the short-tempered demeanor of his wife.
Notes - Mrs. Hall, although not a major character, is revealed as rather devious in a harmless sort of way. She really wants to know what the man’s disfigurement is; she assumes he has been in a horrible accident, and the motherly side of her wants to know how to express sympathy. She is a very good innkeeper under the circumstances. While she is not above using Teddy to pry for information, she does not contribute to the spread of rumors. In fact, we are told later that she defends him as long as he is faithful about paying his bill. Teddy is a character typical of the other people of the town. He wants to know the man’s story, and when he is rebuffed for his persistence, he begins to imagine all sorts of things. His imagination soon becomes fact to him, and he spreads his new knowledge to anyone who will listen.